Category Archives: Alumni

Keys to a Unique Nameplate

I’ve just received an amazing gift. A unique, foundry-casting of my name in brass. The Michigan Technological University foundry is one of the few remaining operational university metallurgical facilities where students can work to create 3D positive prints, stamp them into sand, and then pour (with eye protection, fireproof aprons and face shields, tongs, and gloves) orange-hot molten metal into the sand to create metal castings.

I’m near the end of my first year as Dean of Engineering at Michigan Technological University. As background, it’s relevant to note that Michigan Tech was founded in 1885 to support the emerging copper and iron mining activities Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula. Founded to train the future mining and metallurgical engineers, Michigan Tech through the years has established an incredibly strong reputation for training “can-do” engineers—many who know a bit about metallurgy! But even I was surprised when presented with a personalized nameplate for my office—cast in the MSE foundry using brass recovered from a cache of old university office keys!

My new nameplate.

The university had accumulated a large number of brass keys from locks that were long-ago decommissioned. Looking for an ultimate way to securely dispose of the keys, the university public safety department approached the foundry team to ask if they could be melted and destroyed using the foundry. “Of course,” they replied. Timing is always important. At about that same time, Materials Science and Engineering Chair Steve Kampe had asked the foundry team to make a nameplate for me. I was just starting my new job as Dean, and happened to have my own credentials as a metallurgical engineer. Over the next several weeks, a pattern was 3D printed and the key brass was compositionally modified to facilitate its use as a casting alloy—and the nameplate came to be.

Sam Dlugoss holds a version of the finished nameplate
Sam Dlugoss

The “Dean nameplate project” was led by Sam Dlugoss, a chemical engineering student hired as a co-op employee in the foundry. I am humbled each time I see it as I unlock my office door with my own brass key. I think about the hands of the graduate students, staff, and faculty that are represented in the keys that ultimately were melted into my nameplate—and how these dedicated and aspiring engineers and scientists carried their keys and opened their labs and offices each day for many years, to do the work that has established the reputation we now carry on at Michigan Tech.

Last week, students in the foundry created more nameplates, this time for our College of Engineering Advisory Board Members. In the photos below, the students are working with iron.

A dip type thermocouple probe is used to measure the temperature of the liquid iron before tapping the furnace.
A dip type thermocouple probe is used to measure the temperature of the liquid iron before tapping the furnace.
As the iron is tapped into the ladle, ferrosilicon inoculant is added to the liquid stream. The inoculant provides nucleation sites for creating the proper iron-graphite microstructure in the solidified gray cast iron metal.
As the metal is tapped into the ladle, ferrosilicon inoculant is added to the liquid stream. The inoculant provides nucleation sites for creating the proper iron-graphite microstructure in the solidified gray cast iron metal.
After tapping into the ladle is complete, some sparks fly as the inoculant reacts with the liquid iron.
After tapping into the ladle is complete, some sparks fly as the inoculant reacts with the liquid iron.
The pouring team fills the molds.
The pouring team fills the molds.
 The pouring basin is kept full so that the molten metal quickly fills the mold cavity.
The pouring basin is kept full so that the molten metal quickly fills the mold cavity.
As the pouring team fills the 3rd mold [middle ground], an MSE staff member [foreground] lifts the mold jacket from the 2nd mold, and will transfer it to the waiting 4th mold [background] prior to it being poured. The jacket supports the green sand mold against the hydraulic pressure of the liquid metal entering the mold.
As the pouring team fills the 3rd mold [middle ground], an MSE staff member [foreground] lifts the mold jacket from the 2nd mold, and will transfer it to the waiting 4th mold [background] prior to it being poured. The jacket supports the green sand mold against the hydraulic pressure of the liquid metal entering the mold.
The metal has solidified but the molds are left to cool for a few minutes before the castings are shaken out.
The metal has solidified but the molds are left to cool for a few minutes before the castings are shaken out.
A mold with a casting inside is transported to the shake-out bin.
A mold with a casting inside is transported to the shake-out bin.
The molds are dumped into the shake-out bin where they disintegrate. Because sand is a good insulator the castings are still very hot after shake-out, as evidenced by the still glowing runner section. A few taps with a hammer loosens the sand. This green sand will be reused to make more molds after it is conditioned and remixed with water.
The molds are dumped into the shake-out bin where they disintegrate. Because sand is a good insulator the castings are still very hot after shake-out, as evidenced by the still glowing runner section. A few taps with a hammer loosens the sand. This green sand will be reused to make more molds after it is conditioned and remixed with water.
Once cool, the nameplates will be separated, then buffed and polished.

Now, if you’re interested in metallurgy, and you want to know more, please let me know—Callahan@mtu.edu.

Janet Callahan, Dean
College of Engineering
Michigan Tech


Engineering Alumni Activity Summer 2019

Denise M. Rizzo
Denise M. Rizzo

Alumna Denise M. Rizzo ’14 made national news for earning for receiving SAE International’s Rodica Baranescu Award for Technical and Leadership Excellence for her technical contributions to industry and her key leadership achievements. Dr. Rizzo received her PhD in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics from Michigan Technological University in 2014. She currently holds the role of a Senior Research Mechanical Engineer for the Powertrain Modeling & Simulation Team at US Army CCDC Ground Vehicle Systems Center. She specializes in modeling, simulation and control of propulsion systems of ground vehicles.

Reagan May
Reagan May

The last time Reagan May raced weekly on Thursday nights at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna she was a teenager bouncing around in a Wisconsin sport truck on the track’s bumpy quarter-mile. That was in 2008. Fast forward to 2019. Now graduated from college (Michigan Tech) and working full time at Oshkosh Truck Corporation as a rotational engineer, May is putting good use to the mechanical engineering degree she earned up in snowy Houghton. May is also racing full time on Thursday nights in the late model class, wheeling a car owned by the Devine family and Mackville Motorsports

Craig Allen Pollock
Craig Allen Pollock

Marquis Who’s Who, the world’s premier publisher of biographical profiles, is proud to present Craig Allen Pollock with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in the automotive and manufacturing industries. Earning a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering, summa cum laude, from Michigan Technological University in 1980, he soon after completed a Master of Business Administration, summa cum laude, at the University of Michigan in 1983. He is a registered professional engineer in Michigan.

John Uhrie
John Uhrie

The Doe Run Company (Doe Run) is pleased to announce that John Uhrie, PE, Ph.D., QP, has joined the company as vice president – exploration, research and technical development. Dr. Uhrie earned a bachelor’s degree in geological engineering from Michigan Technological University, a master’s in geology from the University of Wyoming, and a doctorate in metallurgical engineering from Michigan Technological University.

Wayne Bergstrom
Wayne Bergstrom

Wayne Bergstrom, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE, has agreed to serve as the Chair of the Civil Engineering Program Criteria Task Committee at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. His current role is as Assistant Chief Engineer with Bechtel Infrastructure and Power. Bergstrom received a BS in Civil Engineering at Michigan Tech in 1976.

Mike Olosky
Mike Olosky

Henkel, the company behind well-known brands such as Loctite®, Dial®, Right Guard®, Schwarzkopf®, and Persil® has appointed Mike Olosky as its regional President in North America and Regional Head of Adhesive Technologies for North America and Latin America. Additionally, he will continue to serve in a global leadership role in the company’s Adhesive Technologies business. Olosky graduated from Michigan Technological University with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering in 1991. He also holds an MBA from Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business.

Brett Belan
Brett Belan

Brett Belan made news in Ashland, Oregon, for selling an electric solar-powered home-on-wheels that he and his wife, Kira, engineered. It sports a dozen 245-watt solar panels on two leaves that slide out sideways to capture the sun’s energy, which goes into batteries that drive its electric motor for about 100 miles. With plug-in charging, it can travel up to 600 miles a day, says Brett. Belan is a mechanical engineering graduate of Michigan Tech and went on to work for Ford Motor Co. in Detroit and Jaguar in England.

Todd Wodzinski
Todd Wodzinski

Tooling Tech Group (TTG), a leading provider of highly engineered tools and assembly equipment to a wide range of industries, has announced that it has hired Todd Wodzinski as the company’s Chief Commercial Officer (CCO). Wodzinski will be responsible for leading the sales and marketing activities for the company including sales team management, market planning and business development. Prior to entering the private sector, Wodzinski was an operations officer in the United States Navy. He has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Michigan Technological University and a master’s in marketing and supply chain management from Michigan State University.


Congratulations to the Newest Members of the Chemical Engineering Distinguished Academy

portrait of James Brozzo '53, Master of Ceremonies
James Brozzo ’53, Master of Ceremonies

Michigan Tech’s Department of Chemical Engineering held its 2019 ChE Academy induction ceremony May 14 Miscowaubik Club in Calumet, Michigan. Three ChE alumni were welcomed into the Academy by Pradeep Agrawal, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering. James Brozzo ’53, was the Master of Ceremonies
—it was also his 88th birthday. All in attendance helped Mr. Brozzo celebrate his birthday at the event.

Members of the Distinguished Academy are those whose careers have been marked by extraordinary accomplishments or exemplary service to the profession. Inductees are nominated by department faculty. Academy members are role models of accomplishment for our undergraduate and graduate students.

portrait of Stephen Anderson
L to R: Michael Cleveland ’82, Stephen Anderson, and Tammi Anderson

Stephen Anderson—Class of ’98

Steve Anderson is Senior Vice President and General Manager for the Light Industries North America business segment within Nalco Water, an Ecolab Company. Ecolab is the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services that provide and protect clean water, safe food, abundant energy and healthy environments. With 2017 sales of $13.8 billion and 48,000 associates, Ecolab delivers comprehensive programs and on-site services to promote safe food, maintain clean environments, optimize water and energy use and improve operational efficiencies for customers in the food, healthcare, energy, hospitality and industrial markets in more than 170 countries around the world.

Throughout his 19 years with Ecolab, Steve has held various roles in the areas of sales, sales management, business strategy and general management. He started his career in the field as a territory manager following his graduation from Michigan Tech. During this time in the field and throughout his career, he has supported customers in the Institutional, Food & Beverage, Manufacturing, Power and Chemical industries.

With the ever-growing need for water use reduction and water safety programs throughout North America and around the world, Steve is responsible for continuing to build upon the programs most needed by Ecolab’s Light customers to minimize water, maximize the life of customer assets, protect their brand and their people, all at an optimized cost.

Alex Kowalski, with wife Holly and their two children.
L to R: Holly Kowalski, Annika Kowalski, Alex Kowalski, Isaac Kowalski, and Melvin Visser ’59

Alex Kowalski—Class of ’01

Alex Kowalski is CEO and owner of Performance Welding. Performance is an OEM contract manufacturer of metal assemblies based in Little Chute, Wisconsin. He acquired the distressed company in September of 2012 and brought in professional management for the turnaround. After he acquired Performance Welding, the company was profitable the very first year. Since then Alex has grown its revenue organically by 341 percent.

Prior to purchasing Performance, Alex was the President of INFO-PRO Mortgage Services, a privately held mortgage servicing company based in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Alex also spent time as the Director of Sales for a privately held real estate investment firm.

Alex, along with his wife Holly, own Kay James Design. Kay James is a graphic design business specializing in surface graphics, packaging design, and product aesthetics for consumer brands. Alex and Holly also own a commercial real estate portfolio that totals 250,000 square feet. The properties are located primarily in Wisconsin.

Alex has a BS in Chemical Engineering and a BS in Business Administration, both from Michigan Tech. Alex and Holly have two children, Annika and Isaac, and reside in Sherwood, Wisconsin.

portrait of Paula Wittbrodt at the podium of the spring 2017 Michigan Tech Commencement
Paula Wittbrodt

Paula Wittbrodt— Class of ’93

Paula Wittbrodt is currently the vice president of international business development and chief of staff to the group president international at Estée Lauder in New York City, and served as keynote speaker and recipient of an honorary PhD at 2017 Tech’s Spring Commencement.

Paula started her career working for Amway Corporation in Ada, Michigan as a process development engineer. She went on to earn an MBA from Columbia Business School in New York with a focus on Strategic Management. In 2005 Paula joined consulting firm A.T. Kearney, supporting Fortune 500 Clients with strategic initiatives in product development and innovation, marketing and strategic planning, organization redesigns, and other operational improvements. Next she joined Avon Products, Inc., initially with the company’s global business transformation team, next as global director, skin care new product engineering and development, and then spent two years in Shanghai, China as executive director of Avon’s new product engineering and development for Asia Pacific. Once back in New York with Avon, she led a global indirect sourcing transformation, building the infrastructure and capabilities to maximize value from the company’s investment, and finally took a role as global lead for sales and operations planning before joining Estée Lauder in 2012.

Over the years Paula has been involved many charitable activities supporting women in business, Junior Achievement, disaster relief activities, breast cancer research, and domestic violence. She is a member of the Michigan Tech Presidential Council of Alumnae.

View the Photo Gallery


Sheryl Sorby: Visualizing Success

portrait of Sheryl Sorby
Michigan Tech Professor Emerita Sheryl Sorby

Michigan Tech Professor Emerita Sheryl Sorby, now a professor of engineering education at the University of Cincinnati, was recently elected President-Elect of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), a term she will hold one year before assuming the presidency in 2020.

Sheryl Sorby graduated from Hastings High School in downstate Michigan. “My dad was a teacher and my mom was the school nurse, so we spent every summer in the Upper Peninsula, in Iron River where we have a family cottage on a lake.” Just a few hours away was Michigan Tech, where Sorby earned a BS in Civil Engineering, an MS in Engineering Mechanics, and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

Dr. Sorby became a longtime faculty member at Michigan Tech, where she was first a professor of civil and environmental engineering and then of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics, associate dean of engineering for academic programs, and founding chair of the Department of Engineering Fundamentals, responsible for the development and delivery of Michigan Tech’s First-Year Engineering Program.

For nearly three years, Sorby served as a program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Undergraduate Education. From 2013-2014 she was a Fulbright Scholar conducting engineering education research at the Dublin Institute of Technology.

Sorby has been a member of ASEE since 1991 and has served the Society in various capacities. In 2009 she was inducted as a Fellow of ASEE, and in 2011 she received the Society’s Sharon Keillor award as outstanding female engineering educator.

“All information ever conceived is available instantaneously on the Web. There’s no sitting around wondering what the answer to a question is—just Google it. And we can Google it on our phones, any time, any place. Rote learning can be done at home or on the beach. To survive, we have to provide students with a reason to come to campus and to provide funders with a reason to support transformational educational research that will move us ever forward. ASEE is the professional society that is poised to help faculty as they rethink engineering and engineering technology education to provide experiences that prepare our students for a lifetime of learning and intellectual engagement.” – Dr. Sheryl Sorby, in her candidate statement for ASEE president

Sorby received her first grant in 1993 to develop a course for helping engineering students develop their 3-D spatial skills and has received numerous follow-up grants from NSF and the Department of Education to further the work. Examples of spatial skills include the ability to translate 2-D patterns to 3-D objects or to mentally rotate 3-D objects.  “Although these skills are used across many disciplines including engineering, architecture, geology, medicine and computer science, not everyone has good spatial skills,” says Sorby. “Many people who have poor spatial skills believe it is something ‘they are just not good at’.  Even good students can have poor spatial skills that can be barriers to learning,” she adds.

“Engineering has many ‘gateway’ courses. Typically, these are thought to be calculus, chemistry, and physics. But it seems that for women and for some men, engineering graphics may be a more significant gateway,” Sorby explains. “By helping students improve their ability to visualize in three dimensions, we are able to improve retention rates in engineering, particularly for female students.”

Her research shows that with training, women and men achieve consistent and large gains in tests of spatial skills. “First year engineering students, undergraduate students outside engineering, high school students and middle school students have all shown improvement,” she says. “Spatial skills can indeed be developed through practice.”

Sorby created a small business, Higher Education Services (HES), an educational consulting firm that works to advance spatial research and training worldwide, empowering students to be successful in their studies and ultimately their careers. HES provides training, speaking, coaching and consulting services to academics and non-profits on topics such as spatial training, cognitive learning, self-efficacy, career coaching, research opportunities for students and concept inventories. In addition, she has founded a small business in Ireland to distribute her curriculum throughout Europe and is working with colleagues in the Irish Ministry of Education to implement spatial skills training in secondary schools on a large scale.

Sorby has been the principal investigator or co-PI on more than $14 million in grant funding, mostly for educational projects. The author of seven textbooks and more than 150 papers, she received the Betty Vetter award for Research on Women in Engineering through the Women in Engineering Pro-Active Network (WEPAN) for her work in improving the 3-D spatial skills of engineering students.

“We are very proud of Dr. Sorby’s election as the future president of the American Society for Engineering Education,” remarked Janet Callahan, Dean of Engineering at Michigan Tech. “Her long-standing leadership and contributions in the area of teaching spatial visualization have changed how we ‘visualize’ success.”

Learn more: Recruiting women for science, technology, engineering and math: Sheryl Sorby at TEDxFulbrightDublin

 

 


2019 Student Leadership Award Recipients

Andrew Baker '11 '14
Andrew Baker ’11 ’14

Outstanding students, staff, and a special alumni were honored April 19, 2019, for Michigan Tech’s 25th Annual Student Leadership Awards Ceremony.

Keynote speaker Andrew H. Baker ’11 ’14 (MS, PhD MSE), won the Outstanding Young Alumni Award. He is currently working for Boeing Company and active in his professional organization The Minerals, Metals, & Materials Society.

Congratulations to all of the 2019 winners:

  • President’s Award for Leadership: Jack Hendrick
  • Dean of Students Award for Service: Elise Cheney-Makens
  • Exceptional Leadership in Student Governance Award: Apurva Baruah
  • Exceptional Enthusiasm as Student Leader Award: Ben Metzger
  • Student Employee of the Year: Jessika Rogers
  • Rising Star of the Year: Logan Alger.
  • Outstanding Future Alumni: Magann Dykema
  • Exceptional Program of the Year: Economics Club’s 2018 KHOB Economic Outlook
  • Most Improved Student Organization: Alpha Psi Omega Theatre Honor Society
  • Exceptional Community Service Project: Elise Cheney-Makens, Science Fair Mentoring Program
  • Claire M. Donovan Award: Joel Isaacson
  • Student Organization of the Year: Inter-Residence Housing Council
  • Percy Julian Award: Ron Kyllonen
  • Student Organization Advisors of the Year: James DeClerck, Delta Upsilon and Jean DeClerck, Alpha Sigma Tau
  • The Provost’s Award for Scholarship: Tessa Steenwinkel, Biological Sciences
  • Exceptional Graduate Student Leader: Karina Eyre, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Exceptional Graduate Student Scholar: Miles Penhale, ME-EM
  • Exceptional Graduate Mentor: Melissa F. Baird, Social Sciences
  • Exceptional Staff Member: Brittany Buschell, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences
  • Sorority Woman of the Year – Greta Colford, Alpha Gamma Delta
  • Fraternity Man of the Year – Trevor Peffley, Sigma Rho
  • Sorority of the Year – Alpha Gamma Delta
  • Fraternity of the Year – Phi Kappa Tau

By Student Activities.

Related:

Pavlis Students Shine at 25th Annual Student Leadership Awards

View the Medallion Ceremony Photo Gallery


Sirak Seyoum ’93 Climbs Mt. Everest

Serak Seyoum ’93 with fellow climbers Keval Kakka and Avtandil Tsintsadze in Lobuche, Nepal.

Michigan Tech alumnus Sirak Seyoum ’93, an electrical engineer living in San Francisco, has taken a few months off his professional position at Cargill. He intends to become the first Ethiopian to conquer Everest, the highest mountain in the world. He began his climb in April and is currently at High Camp Lobuche in Nepal.

Sirak Seyoum ’93. His goal: to be the first Ethiopian ever to climb Mt. Everest.

Sirak discovered his passion for climbing more than 11 years ago. He has been climbing mountain ranges around the world nonstop ever since. As a young boy, Sirak grew up in Gondar, Ethiopia, idolizing sports legends like Pele and Abebe Bikila, which continued to inspire his love for the outdoors. He engaged in college sports while excelling academically at Michigan Tech. His father, Dr. Seyoum Taticheff passed away in 2011, proud and supportive of his son’s mountain climbing ambitions. While a little anxious, his mother Dr. Fantaye Mekbeb is also Sirak’s number one fan, thankful to see her son’s passion coming to fruition in 2019. She is confident in his ability to reason, and his mental and physical strengths, as are all his friends.

Sirak’s conquest of some of the most challenging mountains around the world is testament to his level of fitness. As if climbing mountains is not challenging enough, Sirak is known to wear weighted vests while he climbs.

Visit Sirak’s Facebook page for ongoing posts from his climb of Mt. Everest. In addition, Sirak’s GoFundMe page tells more about his efforts to help bring attention to street children in Addis Abeba.

 

April 2019: Sirak Seyoum at High Camp Lobuche, Nepal
Sirak in the lead on Mt. Chopicalqui, Peru (2015)
Sirak Seyoum ’93 Mt Chopicalqui, Peru (2015)

Making a Difference in Motor City: Alternative Spring Break

Michigan Tech Alumnus Bruce Brunson during NSBE Alternative Spring Break in Detroit last year. Brunson earned BS degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering in 2018. He now works as an associate design engineer for Ethicon Endo-Surgery Inc. in Cincinnati, Ohio.

While some students travel for adventure during spring break, others travel for the greater good. The Michigan Tech Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) will head to Motor City to spread the message of STEM.

Ten Michigan Tech engineering students will visit six middle and high schools to encourage students to consider college and a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) careers as part of the chapter’s 8th Annual NSBE Alternative Spring Break trip to Detroit from March 11-13, 2019.

During the school day, the Michigan Tech students will make classroom presentations to middle and high school students encouraging them to continue their education after high school, consider going to college or community college, and choose a STEM career path. The NSBE students will also conduct evening Family Engineering events at three K-8 schools.

The goal of the NSBE classroom presentations and Family Engineering events are to engage, inspire, and encourage diverse students to learn about and consider careers in engineering and science through hands-on activities. These programs are designed to address our country’s need for an increased number and greater diversity of students skilled in STEM (math, science, technology, and engineering).

NSBE School Presentation Schedule ~ Monday-Wed, March 11-13, 2019
Morning High School Classroom Presentations (first 3 periods):
  • Western International High School
  • Communications and Media Arts HS
  • Ben Carson High School
Afternoon Middle School Classroom Presentations (2 periods after lunch) and K-8 Family Engineering Nights (3-5 pm):
  • Ronald Brown Academy
  • Thurgood Marshall K-8 School
  • Clippert Academy
This outreach effort is funded by General Motors, and the Michigan Tech Office of Admissions and College of Engineering, in partnership with Detroit Public Schools Community District. The effort is coordinated by the Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach.
High school students at these schools will also be encouraged to apply to participate in a 6-day Engineering & Environmental Science Exploration at Michigan Tech from July 20-27, or a 5-day Summer STEM Internship at Michigan Tech from July 15-19. Each participating student will be supported by a $700 scholarship. Application information is available here.
For many other students at Michigan Tech, For Michigan Tech students, spring break is a time to take the dedication, innovation and tenacity they bring to the classroom to a different venue. Read more about the wide range of alternative spring breaks taking place this year.

Safe Winter Roads, Explained by a Michigan Tech Snow Scientist

It’s the first week of March and so far we’ve had 175 inches of snow in Houghton County, with another couple of feet expected before the spring thaw. Despite all the snow, we manage to get around pretty well (most of the time). Snow scientist Russ Alger ’80, ’81 explains just what goes into the UP’s ‘secret sauce’ for safe winter roads.

Russ Alger, Chief Snow Scientist, Keweenaw Research Center

Russ Alger knows about snow. The head of Michigan Tech’s Institute of Snow Research is one of the world’s go-to guys for research on cold climate driving issues, with more than 25 years of experience and counting. Since earning his BS and MS in Civil and Environmental engineering Michigan Tech, Alger has developed a snow grader that can “pave” snow trails in Antarctica, and a product called SafeLane, an epoxy-aggregate mixture that is applied to roads, bridge decks, walkways and parking lots to give the surfaces better traction by reducing snow and ice. SafeLane is now marketed by Cargill and used widely, saving untold lives.

You are a snow scientist. How did you come to choose this path, or did it choose you?  My father, George Alger, was a civil engineering professor at Michigan Tech for many years. His expertise was in ice-covered rivers and cold regions engineering in general. Growing up in Dollar Bay and working with him on outdoor projects, as well as being an outdoorsman myself, pointed me down that path at a young age.  In 1976, my Dad, along with Michigan Tech civil engineering professors Ralph Hodek and Henry Sanford established a curriculum on Cold Regions Engineering. I started with them that very first year.

Are there best practices for using salt on roadways in winter? Road supervisors and crews rely heavily on the weather forecast.  Air temp, pavement temp, temperature trends, precipitation rates and total amounts, wind, time of day, and more all play into the decision making process. For example, if it is going to be below 15o F, it is likely that crews would consider adding something like calcium chloride to the mix since it is better at colder temps. They might just use sodium chloride above that temp since it works well and is much cheaper.  The amount of deicer needed also increases as temperature decreases and there is a point where it doesn’t pay to use deicer at all except for maybe as a “kicker” for sand applications.

Combining salt and stamp sands seems to work pretty well to help us get around amid all the snowfall here in the UP.  What all goes into it? Each maintenance entity uses a sand that is easiest in their operation. It depends on availability, and cost—where cost is actual material cost and transportation to the central staging areas. As it turns out, in most of Houghton County, stamp sand is used. It’s abundant, and the County owns some stamp sand property. On top of that, stamp sand is actually a pretty good ‘grit’ for this purpose. The grain size is right to result in traction, which is the purpose of sand. It isn’t too dusty, and most importantly, it is crushed rock, so it is angular. That means it has sharp edges that help it dig into icy pavements and grip tires. The addition of a small amount of deicer, mainly NaCl and CaCl2 liquid helps the sand piles from freezing up, but is also very effective at helping the sand particles to stick on the ice surface. A small amount of deicer makes the sand particles melt into the surface and stick, making a layer that acts like a piece of sand paper. This is a pretty effective way to increase grip of tires on the surface, which is the end goal of this operation.

 “Winter road maintenance is a science in itself, a very complicated undertaking. Each geographic location has its own challenges and ways of doing things that have evolved over the years. That said, there really is no miracle method.”

Are any elements of winter road prep unique to this area? As you drive across the UP and into Wisconsin and Lower Michigan it is evident that each entity has its own way of doing things.  Driving west through Twin Lakes and into Ontonagon County this is also quite evident. Each group has its own way of using deicers and each has a unique type of friction course (sand) that they use. The northern UP is also quite unique, as we get so much snow. Heavy snow areas are sometimes difficult areas in which to use deicers, since it takes so much chemical to keep up with the amounts of snow.

Within Houghton County a number of different entities perform our snow removal operations. MDOT takes care of the State and Federal trunklines, Houghton County takes care of all secondary roads, and some of the larger cities in the area take care of their own streets. Each of these entities have their own way of doing things. In fact, across the UP, there are counties that even take care of their own State and Federal Roads. There are some major difference in operations as you drive across the UP in a storm event.

Do you see any room for improvement?  There are always ways to improve, but in my experience traveling across the US and Canada through numerous storm events, our local entities have gotten really good at dealing with the extreme amounts of snow that we get. It always amazes me how well we can move around the Copper Country during and very shortly after a snow event. Hats off!!

Why does it seem that so many places elsewhere in the country are unprepared and shut down when even a few inches of snow falls? In areas that don’t get much snow, and not very often, it is hard to justify spending a lot on winter equipment and supplies. That has been a big problem this year since so much of the country is getting record snows.  On the other side of the coin, some areas, including some wealthier Detroit suburbs, the public has pushed for roads to be bare pavement at all times. These areas spend a lot of money on snow removal.

Could our method(s) be replicated and shared with other cities and towns? As researchers we always want to share or work and ideas with others. I’ve done a lot of deicer research over the years, some of which is public domain and some is for private companies.  We have also done a lot of work on methods over the years such as when to put deicers out, how to put them out, how much, how often, how to predict, and more.

 


Charitable Lead Trust — How I Give

Judy and Gary Anderson ’67

“I believe that a great education is the foundation for a great career. I was fortunate to have both.” —Gary Anderson ‘67

I believe that a great education is the foundation for a great career. I was fortunate to have both.

Growing up in Ishpeming in the 1950s, I saw firsthand what hard work looked like. My father had to quit school to work in the mines at age 15 to support the family after my grandfather was killed in a mining accident. Both my father and mother stressed the importance of getting an education. They wanted me to have a better life and sacrificed financially to send me to college.

Michigan Tech proved to be tough, but I welcomed the rigor. It hardened and sharpened me to be able to compete in the global marketplace. I graduated in 1967 with a degree in chemical engineering. I joined Dow Corning and spent my entire career there, eventually becoming CEO and Chairman before retiring in 2004. I’m proud to say our firm grew 50-fold and became recognized as one of the nation’s top 100 companies to work for.

Looking back on my career, I realize the value of my education and the role Michigan Tech played in my development. My wife, Judy, and I wanted to help today’s youth achieve their potential as well. We set up a charitable lead trust. It’s a great tool we are able to use to support Tech and several other of our favorite charities for a 10-year period with the residual trust value going to our children in the future. The trust allows us to see the impact of our annual gifts now while we are alive, as well as reducing taxes on the remaining assets that will go to our family in the future.

I’m happy to say we’ve been able to start the Anderson Family Scholarships for students from Ishpeming and Westwood High Schools as well as a student research fund in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Judy and I believe, just as my parents did, in the importance of a great education. We are thrilled to be able to help others improve their lives through education, and encourage others to do the same.

A charitable lead trust is an irrevocable trust designed to provide financial support to one or more charities for a period of time, with the remaining assets eventually going to family members or other beneficiaries. For more information on lead trusts or other planned giving options, visit www.mtu.legacy.org or email giftplan@mtu.edu.

 


Bryant Weathers New CoE Director of Advancement

Bryant Weathers
Bryant Weathers

The College of Engineering welcomes Bryant Weathers to the dean’s office staff as director of advancement. As advancement liaison for the eight departments within the College of Engineering, Weathers’ primary role will be to connect alumni and friends in furthering Michigan Tech’s mission and programs, while achieving individual charitable goals in a variety of ways.

His previous experience at Michigan Tech includes advancement officer and gift planning and donor communications specialist in the Office of Advancement. Weathers is an alumnus, and earned his BS in Science and Technical Communication in 2010.